Gaius Publius: There Will Be No Chinese Century

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

The legendary, pre-historic “great flood of China,” which was said to have lasted several generations. The flooded area to the east is roughly what is now called the North China Plain, one of two Chinese breadbaskets. Chinese civilization starts from this region. The smaller flooded area on this map is in the Sichuan Basin, China’s other major growing region. (The circled area is thought to be the territory of China’s first dynasty, the Xia, said to have rule there starting about 2200 BC.) Image credit: SY – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, link.

It’s common among a certain group of historians to call the 20th century “the American century,” named for the political superpower that dominated it. Americans especially revel in the phrase.

The term [“the American century”] was coined by Time publisher Henry Luce to describe what he thought the role of the United States would be and should be during the 20th century. Luce, the son of a missionary, in a February 17, 1941 Life magazine editorial urged the United States to forsake isolationism for a missionary’s role, acting as the world’s Good Samaritan and spreading democracy. He called upon the US to enter World War II to defend democratic values.

Luce’s 1941 editorial closes this way:

Throughout the 17th century and the 18th century and the 19th century, this continent teemed with manifold projects and magnificent purposes. Above them all and weaving them all together into the most exciting flag of all the world and of all history was the triumphal purpose of freedom.

It is in this spirit that all of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American Century.

That was written before Pearl Harbor, but the phrase endured throughout the post-war world of American hegemony, as Luce’s dream of global freedom was snuffed out by America — deliberately and repeatedly, in Guatemala, Iran, Vietnam, Chile and a dozen other countries — so that American hegemony, not global freedom, could remain the order of the day.

China, recovering from a century of humiliation and foreign domination, has risen fresh from its own colonial wounds and seeks to reverse American hegemony, to make the 21st century a “Chinese century,” an outcome Americans fear, of course, and the U.S. government claims to work to avoid.

Americans should have no fear of a Chinese century. The one we’re in will not be a Chinese century, any more than it will be anyone else’s. In fact, I can predict with confidence that unless this species gets global warming under control, China will not even be territorially intact by the end of the 21st century. (For the same reason — its many mountain ranges — neither will the United States.)

Consider the North China Plain, one of China’s two breadbaskets. As I wrote in 2015:

In a world without a climate crisis, China will win economically. The U.S. has already, as part of an unspoken national economic policy, handed China control of the world’s manufacturing, in exchange for major additions to American CEO bottom lines, like Phil Knight’s at Nike. Put simply, U.S. national economic policy is to make China and Phil Knight rich at the expense of most Americans. Both China and Phil Knight have taken that deal.

But in a world with a climate crisis, the North China Plain is at risk. If 45°N latitude is roughly the cutoff for livability in the latter half of the 21st century (sorry, can’t find the link), Beijing at 39°N will boil, as will the North China Plain, directly south of that.

The Guardian agrees, writing just recently: “Unsurvivable heatwaves could strike heart of China by end of century.”

The deadliest place on the planet for extreme future heatwaves will be the north China plain, one of the most densely populated regions in the world and the most important food-producing area in the huge nation.

New scientific research shows that humid heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike the area repeatedly towards the end of the century thanks to climate change[.]

Bill McKibben responded, adding that “the North China Plain, home to 400 million, will be essentially uninhabitable by century’s end without huge emissions cuts now”.

At just 50 meters above sea level, the North China Plain will also flood, as this National Geographic map, from their piece “What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted,” illustrates:

Asia after all the ice melts. Everything blue is water (click to enlarge).

China’s other breadbasket, the Sichuan basin, will likely fare no better, as it sits even further south. Climate models predict average temperature in the Sichuan Basin will increase 4°C (7.6°F) from the start of this century to the end, with an increase in the number of extreme heat waves of the kind we’re seeing this summer in the U.S. and elsewhere:

Not only has Britain sweltered in the five-week heatwave that finally ended last Friday, record-breaking heat has subjectedNorway, Sweden and Finland to unheard-of temperatures – above 32C, that’s 90F, recorded 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Meanwhile in Ouargla, a Saharan desert city in Algeria, a temperature of 51.3C (124.2F) recorded on 5 July is thought to be the highest ever reliably measured in Africa. And so in Japan, and so in Greece, and so in Canada: all over the northern hemisphere, record-breaking heat.

There’s more on the way. You can’t grow much in that heat, and you can’t grow anything if you can’t work safely outside.

There will be no Chinese century. Should we fail to bring our climate, and our billionaires, under the people’s control, this century will be no one’s century at all, not even the billionaires’. After all, those billionaires, far from planning our joint survival, are busy instead plotting their own escape.

ADDED: I can’t imagine why people who look into the future, seeing better smart phones, smarter door locks, driverless cars, the next big thing only bigger, don’t see this, don’t factor in the tsunami that even now wets their faces. But it’s clear they don’t. I guess the day they do is the day we might make progress. We’re certainly not making it now.

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  1. IronForge

    Nothing to Worry.

    If the Conspiratorial Red Scare NeoCons’ Fears become Real,
    CHN will have taken over everything on the OTHER SIDE of the South China Sea…

  2. kimyo

    if we stop pretending that electric cars are a solution (unless you hail from the southwest, have your own solar panels and keep your tesla at home every day between noon and 3pm) then only one solution exists: conservation.

    this rules out a political solution, as you will never find an elected official who is against growth. what politician will argue for a decade or more of annual decreases in gdp?

    1. digi_owl

      Solar panels rarely if ever feed a car or similar directly.

      they feed into a bank of batteries (or some other energy storage system) that then feed the uses around the home.

      This is why Tesla now also offers a “powerwall”, basically a Tesla battery pack that can be mounted to a house or garage wall and then patched into an existing house wiring.

      1. kimyo

        tesla’s charging faq makes no mention of the powerwall.

        here’s a snip from a reddit thread on what might be required: Can I set up Multiple PowerWalls to DC fast Charge a Model S

        I know this seems obvious, but I have not heard any mention of it. In theory if you had 9 PowerWalls you would have enough kwh to charge your Tesla. You could charge your Tesla, go for a long drive, come back and recharge in like 1 hour with the PowerWall. This would enable everyone to DC fast charge at their own home!

        9 powerwalls is a heck of a lot of lithium which you don’t want anywhere near your house (scenario: your dishwasher catches on fire. it spreads to the powerwall(s). the fire company stands by and watches your house burn to the ground.)
        9 powerwalls @ $6k each = $54k
        the solar setup required to feed 9 powerwalls would take up every single inch of your property and then some.

  3. cm

    This is a very strange post. If the boogie man is global warming (and thus changing oceanic borders), why no forecast of US borders? All we see in this weird post is dire forecasts of Chinese doom, but no European or US predictions? Are Europe & US magically exempt from global warming?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Read the post: “and elsewhere..” Then go look at the map link, , and GP’s remarks on average temperatures and recent and continuing heat waves in Europe “and elsewhere.”

      So is human-induced climate change a “boogeyman?”

      And of course the whole world will change, likely at an accelerating rate, thanks to the appetites of the Elites and their ability to suck the rest of us, for the last 5 or 10 centuries, into their where’s-mine, use-it-up, “apres nous le deluge,” slow-motion horror show.

      Too bad the Phil Knights and Lloyd Blankfeins and Carlos Slims and Warren Buffetts and the rest will continue on in perfect comfort, with all their pleasure sensors fully satisfied, continue on in Very
      Special Lives, into protected and cossetted deaths, cared for lovingly by people who swim along like good little remoras and cleaner wrasses to make their living and gentle dying so very special. And so they either escape the Hell Planet they and their predecessors created, or get to enjoy the last little bits of relatively undemolished terrain, even take pleasure in the Gotterdammerung they have catalyzed, immune to consequences, safe from retribution.

      While we mopes gasp and cook and croak in a global Crockpot ™ we unfortunately, many of us, helped create and manufacture and sell and “improve” …

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Gaius Publius has described in past posts the global warming effects which will hit America. One could probably find them in searching the archives.

    3. Lambert Strether

      The topic of the post is announced in the headline. You seem to wish that the author had written a different post. Perhaps one day your lucky number will come up, and he will!

    4. C

      There is every likelihood that the Chinese will build another Great Wall to contain the sea- similar to Dutch dikes protecting their polders.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Whatever else happens the people of China will have to eat. Or else reduce their population by hundreds of millions. I had not realized that the ocean would make such deep inroads into the Chinese heartlands. If that is a breadbasket region being flooded, then what about the food needed to feed China? Where will that come from?
    I am reminded of an old 1968 film called “The Shoes of the Fisherman” where the background of the film was that the world was at the brink of nuclear war because a “Chinese–Soviet feud (was) made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the United States”. China was demanding food to feed its starving people – or else they would invade other Asian countries to seize it. I could see this happening one day.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And I am reminded of a 1973 film called “Soylent Green,” where the background was that a corporation had achieved global monopoly of all the residual resources of a dying planet. Where corporate practices had killed off the oceans’ and land’s ability to even produce the algae and lentils that had become the food source for the remnant humans, packed into sweltering decrepit cities. Where the corporate executives lived in the penthouses of the remaining operating buildings, with all the luxuries that remained, from cow meat to sexy babes (referred to as “the furniture”) who were sex slaves bound to the apartments where the Elite lived.

      And of course you know the story: some Soylent Corporation executive gets a case of conscience and wants to tell the rest of the population what has happened and how it’s still getting worse, and gets killed to shut him up. The truth he wants to reveal is that corporate profits are now maintained by picking up the corpses of the dead, from the streets but also the string of suicide parlors the corporation operates where the despondent can go for a pretty and nominally painless death (and killing a bunch when the feedstocks run short and people riot) and dumping them into vats as the base for the bouillon on which the algae that get harvested and compressed into “food” wafers (the “Soylent Green” and Red and Orange of the film’s title.) Suicides were also encouraged and fostered in facilities owned by the Soylent Corporation, and here’s how it worked:

      Apparently some “innovators” hope to catapult off the name recognition that the movie, and the Harry Harrison book “Make Room! Make Room” that it was based on, has provided. You can get “Soylent,” being peddled as “nutritionally perfect” by a couple of software engineers, on the ‘net:

      The curse of sentience — the ability to create these situations, the inability to avoid the destruction they cause.

      “The horror! The horror!”

      1. digi_owl

        As i recall, the green was particularly priced because it was the protein variant. the other, relatively accessible, variants were for carbohydrates and fat.

  5. JBird

    China also has a horrible problem with pollution. I can understand wanting to pull one’s country out of poverty but destroying its environment while abusing all your minorities and neighbors while stealing their resources just because you can seems to be absolute folly.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And China sanctifies Tibetanizing everything within its reach and its grasp by shouting ” Western Humiliation!” in exactly the same way that Likudistan sanctifies the illegal squattlements in Occupied West Bank , illegally annexed East Jerusalem and illegally annexed Golan Heights by shouting

      What the ChinaGov is counting on is that China is too big and powerful for anyone to stop China from Tibetanizing everything within its reach and its grasp.

  6. JBird

    Also it could have been an American Century. One can see that, but greed for money and power, much like the Middle Kingdom, by some of our elites killed it.

    1. jrs

      Yea it could have been if the U.S. had moral leadership, it had the ability to make that happen. However it’s hard to think of a time it ever has, only country to actually use nuclear weapons and everything after.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Since when has any country ever had moral leadership? Why should the U.S. be different? Time for America to lay down the burden of Exceptionalism.

  7. Isotope_C14

    Paul Beckwith related video:

    “You can’t grow much in that heat, and you can’t grow anything if you can’t work safely outside.”

    We are done as a species most likely. So glad our wise leaders decided to do absolutely nothing through the 80’s and 90’s.

  8. Alex

    Yeah, but why do you think China wouldn’t expand into all that nice cool Siberia with plenty of space to grow anything? Non-changing borders for the next 80 years is a huge assumption

    1. Alex

      Actually even without occupying Siberia, China has a huge cold and forested (currently) northeast, which could become their next breadbasket. Yes, that would inlolve movement of people and building infrastructure on a vast scale, but that’s what they are good at

      1. Isotope_C14

        Breadbaskets are normally in locations that were at the ice front of the last glacial period. The ice pushed fertile soil south. Guess what is left in its place? Scoured earth in comparison to Iowa soils with a few inches of topsoil containing trees.

        Head to upper Minnesota and far western Ontario. If you think you can grow monoculture crops at scale there I am offering 2 for 1 deals on bridges this week.

      2. Yves Smith Post author


        Did you forget that plants get their food from the sun?

        Warmer global temps don’t make the sun any stronger in northern (or far southern) areas.

        The lack of strong enough sunshine for long enough periods greatly limits the utility of the far north for crops. And as a result, you have crappy soils (not enough dead plant matter in them).

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Siberia is cooler, but its actually very arid (it doesn’t seem that way because of low evapotranspiration and poor drainage due to permafrost) so can never replace a good alluvial plain for feeding a billion people or so. China (in the form of illegal immigrants) is steadily moving into Siberia, but they are more interested in minerals than food.

      1. Alex

        Maybe you are right. I am by no means an expert. I do know that in parts of Siberia it’s possible to grow crops (Altay) so I would expect that the crop growing area would also grow as the earth gets warmer. The problem with the post is that it assumes that if the north China plain has always been China’s breadbasket it can’t change in future

        1. funemployed

          “the crop growing area would also grow as the earth gets warmer”

          This is almost certainly true, in a sense, particularly given how much land mass lies in the frosty north these days.

          The rub is that it’ll probably take a few hundred thousand years of evolution, ecological migration, and soil formation before it’s ready to be cropified.

          1. JTMcPhee

            And will there be the water in those newly infested lands that’s needed for “cropification” (sounds dangerously like “crapification…”)?

            1. funemployed

              who knows, but in general, when the planet is warm and not being ruined by humans or volcanos or asteroids, there’s lots of green stuff that grows and water falls from the sky regularly over a goodly bit of the planet.

              whether humans will be around by the time the new ecological era approaches some sort of equilibrium is another question entirely though

        2. False Solace

          Although the Earth gets warmer it doesn’t get any closer to the sun, nor does its axial tilt change. The photoperiod of Siberia and other northern regions will remain Siberian. Lack of sunlight will impair plant growth there no matter what else happens.

  9. JBird

    And l really shouldn’t be on the internet this late as my brain shutdowns. But it just occurred to me that China being an authoritarian oligarchy with delusions of Empire will have an extremely hard time being flexible and innovative with dealing with the crises coming up; the “Communist” Party essentially bargained with the population that they would get economic prosperity and the Party will remain completely in charge. An ideological, social, political, and religious straightjacket of conformity. Unorthodox thinking and especially actions are considered a threat even when they are not. So the government already has a police state, which has become a military police state in Tibet and in Western China especially for the Uyghurs, while also denying them the growing prosperity of the Han majority.

    When things start going bad, I can see the leadership frantically strengthening its control and being more brutally unreasonable in such a manner as to shut down the solidarity, cooperation, imagination, and socially mutual support that normally occurs in times of disaster. The scenario of everyone for themselves while the strong kill the weak is actually uncommon. There are ways of making it easier to happen such as atomizing society with a brutality and frantic attempts at control.

    The United States latest progressive movement and attempts reform finally appearing to arise now (and I hope to see the same across the entire political spectrum) before the problems really start, it will probably be in a better shape to deal with the disasters. America will be in a better position to create and use the social solidarity, flexibility, and imagination that societies tend to get when things go bad.

    It is the opportunistic weasels using police state methods, and/or divide and conquer tactics that are our greatest threat to our survival. The ostensible differences in economic beliefs especially in economic fairness hardly exists in our nation, and while the social differences are greater especially with racism, that is less than the general beliefs in our Constitutional rights and in everyone having a fair chance. The social differences especially as to the means but not the end goal of the good of the general welfare, are magnified by economic stress and the use opportunistic demagoguery for wealth and power.

    I don’t know if that will be enough, but I have a little optimism for us. China not so much.

    1. vidimi

      i think just the opposite. china being autocratic means that they can act with greater agility to respond to climate change. and indeed they have. they are leading the charge in solar energy and they have greatly cleaned up the air in beijing from its nadir a couple of years ago. china’s advanage is precisely the fact that they can dictate from above.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Hey, yes, we should be a little optimistic about “us” in these latter days of sapiens economicus. The Imperial military has well-advanced plans for “taking charge” and ordering the future as the long-anticipated (by military planners) crises brought about by human stupidity and greed start to eventuate. There are no doubt updated scenarios and war plans and strategic documents, but one I ran across and was kind of horrified to read is here:

      “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force:
      Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security”

      The first part of the Report is a somewhat dated review of the science and predictions about climate impacts and eventualities. The rest is the how-to of being the boss of global response to environmental collapse, with lots of opportunities for corporations to sell heavy equipment, do engineering and construction, provide security and communication, and wait! there’s more!

      Not to worry, working with the Great Corporations, the US military plans to provide for all eventualities, to control everything, to dominate the battlespace and make it all come out right, whatever that might mean…

    3. Chwee

      That’s an extremely US-centric point of view… with a lot of assumptions and biases that’s been fed by the US MSM.

      I could argue and nit pick point by point, but will just focus on a major difference which is normally overlooked by my state-side friends when they ask me for updates on the China situation…. namely that the political leaders of China (and Russia!) actually have a lot of credibility among the broader general population. When push comes to shove, any leader worth his salt will have to make the call for public sacrifice…. Xi (and Putin)’s exhortations will not be so easily dismissed out of hand.

      Compare and contrast that with the US… whether it’s Trump or Hillary, a huge majority of the electorate don’t trust either of them. During a time of serious crisis, having strong and smart leadership will help to provide some meaningful direction and bind the nation together. Think of FDR with his radio broadcasts during the Depression years, or Churchill with his call to arms during WWII.

      Xi being able to consolidate political power earlier year was a complete shock to all the so-called experts. The most significant thing was not what the western press protrayed it as – becoming dictator-for-life. In the real world, in a big country either with a sizeable economy or resource base (e.g. US, China, Russia etc), there will ALWAYS be competing centers of influence vying for their share of the spoils. Trump may have utilized populist rhetoric, but without the backing of certain factions within the MIC, he would not have trumped over the bankers and other corporate lobbies. How many generals does he need to staff his cabinet with, before the average American figures that out? Hence depicting Putin as a Russian czar caricatures the tough job of balancing various powerful interests within the Russian elites. So with that understanding of how real world politics function in ‘big’ countries, the only plausible reason that the other Chinese power factions allowed Xi to consolidate so much power – is that they understand the need for decisive and tough actions in the near future. The chinese are not stupid…. they can see the multitude of problems coming down the line – soon…

  10. Tomonthebeach

    There is also one other factor GP did not mention – historical trends. A book I read back in the 70’s called A Short History of China by Hilda Hookham makes a rather clear case that China’s political and economic dominance cycles much like sign waves. China invented the clock, ocean-capable ships, canals for moving produce to the cities, and especially the invention that changed Europe – gun powder. Yet, China cannot seem to sustain its momentum over millennia.

    As Hookham points out, China becomes dominant, enjoys a renaissance of wealth and prosperity, transitions from autocracy to meritocracy, then on to revolution, decline – rinse, repeat. If I had to divine a cause, I would attribute it to the middle class. As people get more educated and better off financially, they undermine the meritocracy with bribes, connections, graft, etc. The governed view their government as robbing them of hope for a better tomorrow. When something bad happens, like drought, floods, invasions, etc. the government falls, and the economy along with it.

    Thus, I think GP’s hunch is correct, but his calendar of events might be off by quite a few decades. The Chinese economy will likely implode with far less provocation than a Noah experience. Heat alone kills crops. China is not as air conditioned as the US either. Of course, there is a parallel economic and political situation in the USA, and we too have a history of cyclical revolutions.

    1. JBird

      I think that China has more extreme boom/bust cycles as the authoritarian, often socially conservative, with little acceptance of society wide counterparts like religion; multiple powerful institutions can act as shock absorbers, buffers, and also catalysts, but authoritarian, top down governments don’t like them.

      Europe has had multiple states, many nations, strong religious, business, and even educational institutions that checked each, energized each other, and was less susceptible to widespread collapse.

      The United States is much like Europe with the addition of many social organizations, at least until the 1980s.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The ‘long boom and short bust’ cycle of China’s growth is characteristic of societies based on large river plains. They require strong centralised authoritarian control to maintain the engineering capacity. When they work, they work very well, but when things go wrong, as they inevitably seem to do, then there is an almost complete collapse back to a Year Zero. This pattern can be seen in the Indus Valley, parts of the Middle East, etc.

      The argument made for why Europe (in particular) avoided this is geography. Europe developed as a patchwork of plains defended by mountains or estuaries or seas. Hence it rarely had an overall equivelent of a Chinese emperor, which meant historically development was scrappy. But crucially, when one Kingdom would collapse (whether through war, famine, or stupidity), there was always somewhere else to go for the thinkers, the engineers, the philosophers to go. Even in the Dark Ages there were little patches of surviving civilization to carry the flame (and remember how to build cool things).

      So while the pattern of development in China was huge long steps forward and rapid collapses, the pattern in Europe (which extended into North American of course) is one of incremental steps forward with localised, but not universal, reverses. Hence the tortoise of ‘western’ development gradually moved forward iteratively and relentlessly, while China, and to a lesser extent the Middle East, the pre-Colombian Americas, etc., kept falling back to stage one every time they faced a climate crisis or a crazy emperor.

  11. jan krikke

    One of the strangest stories I have seen on NK.

    The author should hope that Florida, NY, Houston, New Orleans, etc. are not under water by the mid-century and that China will not sell its US bonds and other investments (well over a trillion dollars) to deal with climate change in their own country.

    1. Alex

      If you are implying that the US is going to face a systemic crisis, then all those bonds won’t be worth the paper they are written on

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        then all those bonds won’t be worth the paper they are written on

        Yes, they will.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    One factor thats often forgotten about the Chinese Communist Party is that it has historically been dominated by engineers – specifically hydrological engineers. This isn’t surprising when the entire history of China has been one of people battling and controlling water. This also means that climate change is accepted fact in China, nobody disputes it, but they also tend to see it as a problem to be tackled through brute force engineering, not through societal changes or other means.

    This explains much of Chinas policy over the last few decades – the absolute determination to seek control over the Himalayan plateau, where most of its great rivers arise. The constant battling against desertification on the northern fringes. The determination to shift great chunks of population to the coastal fringe, where water is less scarse, and of course the investment of gigantic sums of money in projects like linking the Yellow River and the Yangtse. Its also the reason why China saw its development in terms of a ‘quick and dirty’ dash to developed country status, with a longer term abandonment of coal and oil to renewables and nuclear.

    The problem for China of course is that tackling climate change is an international problem, not a national one. They are not going to sacrifice their economic gain while seeing the US and others take advantage. This is one reason why my bet is that China will unilaterally be the first country to go full blast into geoengineering, no matter what the rest of the world says. If they don’t get it right, then we are all truly screwed.

  13. JTMcPhee

    All this makes me glad I have health issues and am not that far from seeing what comes next… I am working to help my children and grandchildren figure out how to avoid casual extinction, of course. But I believe I’ve gotten to the point that I no longer fear my own departure.

  14. vegeholic

    Climate change and the attendant agricultural horrors are really just a component of a set of larger problems: population overshoot and resource depletion. There are not “solutions” to any of these but there are probably mitigation and delaying tactics. I am still waiting for anyone in a leadership position to acknowledge, much less discuss these unpleasant topics.

  15. Quite Likely

    I’m a little confused by these temperature numbers. A quick google tells me Sichuan has an average annual temperature of around 17 degrees Celsius. So four degrees hotter by 2100 would bring it up to 21. To compare, the country of Cambodia a little to the south’s average is 28. Cambodia’s a pretty hot country, but it’s not unfit for human habitation or anything. So how could these areas of China that aren’t even going to make it up to that hot of a climate be so hot as to be uninhabitable at a lower temperature?

  16. Don Cafferty

    There is a focus on China in this article and among the comments. The key message in this article is “this century will be no one’s century at all”. We are all screwed. When the National Geographic maps are examined, there are major dislocations everywhere in the world. An entire country Denmark, for example, is underwater. In my country, Canada, an entire province Prince Edward Island is similarly underwater. It is amazing to look at the maps which are not recently new information and see the major dislocations that are coming yet everyone and especially our global leaders have their eyes closed or shielded from what is coming. In the Hollywood disaster movies, the story line usually has global leaders putting aside their differences to take concerted action in order to save the planet. In reality, the opposite is true. Somehow or other, we have to stop having our attention diverted from the tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. As important as some issues may be, Brexit for example, none are more important if you are underwater or have no food or shelter. While the dislocations can be examined globally, the impact is local. Local officials as well have their eyes closed and need to awaken. Where I live, the big issue has been a costly event centre (code word for a $100 million entertainment/sports facility). If this thing is not going to be underwater, it will be awfully close to it! It is disgusting to see how short sighted people want to be!

    1. JTMcPhee

      A pessimist might observe the possibility that the species has collectively examined itself and come to the conclusion that a death wish is the best option, going forward… since there is zero chance that the rulers and elites will ‘do the right thing” in the sense of a concrete, effective, homeostatic response to the unsurvivable trends…As long as they get theirs, for the duration of their own egocentric lives, in keeping with the elites who have preceded them into mostly comfortable old age, ripe in pleasures and a comfortable natural death. Immune to consequence.

      “Après moi, le déluge” has its own Wiki entry, which is interesting for this bit: “Karl Marx wrote in Das Kapital (Vol. 1, Part III, Chapter Ten, Section 5) “Après moi, le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society.” No sh!t.

      And for a more thoughtful commentary on the notion, there’s this:

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        A pessimist might observe the possibility that the species has collectively examined itself and come to the conclusion that a death wish is the best option, going forward

        One could argue that a hard or crash-out Brexit is one example of that premise, or a close cousin, though it’s a little blurry whether, anything‘s better than this, counts as a death wish. If not, it’s certainly getting closer.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    I guess the China tie makes this post more ‘clickable’ and takes the “heat” away from our local climate — I think it’s easier to imagine bad things happening to our competitors rather than look closer to home [Schadenfreude exploitation?]. Besides the AMOC slowing introduces a wild card into what will happen in the North Atlantic regions. Also “Gaius Publius: There Will Be No Chinese Century — [NakedCapitalism:] Why on current trajectories, China (and the US) are toast.” at least suggests all is not well in Merca either.

    I am finding it difficult to find good guesses at what the climate will be in 2110. [Naysayers feel free to shower me with credible links — please no Nature Bats Last Stuff.] I’ve been trying to guess what the world might be like — might most probably be like in 2110 or later. I think a lot of the models and the evidence from paleoclimate start going non-linear before 2100 making predictions more difficult. The models within this century seem tuned for least conflict rather than greatest accuracy, and most of what they predict has already proven ‘optimistic’ as the models ‘improve’.

    I think I missed or forgot Gaius Publius sentence from 2015: ” The U.S. has already, as part of an unspoken national economic policy, handed China control of the world’s manufacturing, in exchange for major additions to American CEO bottom lines, like Phil Knight’s at Nike.” It needs some crafting but this is the stuff of billboards and bumper stickers [I mean that in a very positive sense, having considerable regard for well crafted slogans]. I wonder what Mao would say. Who needs a five-year plan if the U.S. ships you boatloads of money and their industries on a silver platter. I think that beats the old story of a capitalist selling the rope needed to hang him — on 30-days net.

  18. Jeremy Grimm

    Climate Disruption — there — here — and everywhere — is not and will not be linear. Humankind will not survive using old solutions to new problems.

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